Women in Progress

A little conscious,
As we dress differently,
The effect of conditioning.
Then we remind ourselves that it is our right.
We are a work in progress.

Muttering some gossip,
Still some crayons in our hands,
Awkwardly serious,
About social issues.
Coming on,
A little too strong.

Sure, there’s a long way to go.
A test to pass.
I don’t know everything inside out. All the theories and arguments.
But in the cause I believe.
A work in progress.

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A book review of ‘Sookhe Ghoont’, an Anthology by Ankit Dwivedi.

I think that this is the first time that I am officially reviewing a piece of writing on this blog. Note – I am no authority on Hindi literature, I have read very little of it; yet, I will try my best to do justice to this anthology. I will be going into a bit of a background first, so please bear with me.

The person – Ankit is a friend of mine from TISS. I actually met him only a few days before he published the book, say about ten days before. He was already ‘famous’ in the campus, for want of a better word and half my class is part of a theatre troupe with him, so we end up meeting. We end up talking about larger than life things each time we meet – life, philosophy, equality, whether literature is elitist, and things like that. Each chat with him stirs a lot of thought in my head, and so did his book, but more on that later. From this narrative, you might think he would be some steely-faced, philosopher type. Not at all true. His presence is very humble and unassuming. I think this shows through the poetry as well.

The process – Ankit tells me that 4 months ago, he did not even write a word. His friend Tanya then encouraged him to write down his thoughts, and suddenly, 41 poems were staring at him. It feels magical and movie-like, but I understand this. Sometimes, the right channel is all that is needed to get oneself flowing. He was in the process of getting appropriate cover art, and going to and fro the publisher and other nitty-gritties of publishing. He has not gone through an agent, but done it himself, with the help of a few friends and it really is commendable. Finally, came the night of the book launch. That too, was a snug, comfortable affair. The moving classical music added a celestial touch to the evening, while Ankit blushing and stammering at even the hint of praise added a comical one.

The poetry – The book consists of 41 poems, divided into two themes. The first theme is society, and this section is called ‘tamache’ with 28 poems under it. These are daily observations that anyone would have made on their way to and fro work, or they could be hidden facts of our society that we think of as ugly truths and ignore. From the subtle discrimination to clear maltreatment (of certain individuals in the society) are slowly portrayed as you turn the pages. What I like is that most of the poems are more questions or narrations than opinions. This leaves enough space for the reader to explore their views on the topic. If it were a stern opinion that was expressed, the confrontation would make sure that the possibility of any dialogue with oneself and one’s beliefs goes flying out the window. On the flipside, certain poems were slightly longer than they should be, in my opinion, so that the reader stays with the idea, rather than his or her mind starting to flee because of the length of the poem.

The second theme is exclusively on women. It is called ‘gehno ke peeche’ and has 13 poems under it. The various themes captured under it range from widowhood practices in India, to maternal instinct, the profession of prostitution and how women are generally perceived. The author’s distaste for all of the mistreatment and discrimination is very clear in all the poems, and the view has been articulately expressed. These are everyday stories that we might have nodded sympathetically to and stored away somewhere in our head. To bring this to the fore means facing the uncomfortable truth with regards to what a hostile world it is for women. What I found lacking however, was the narratives of women who do not perhaps think of themselves in terms of mainstream notions of women, or do not want things like beauty, freedom to study or other mainstream struggles of being a woman in a patriarchal society – but say themes like exploration of alternate sexuality and so on. Therefore, I found this section lacking, as compared to the first one. Still, it’s a good attempt.

Aesthetically speaking, you might find tune lacking in some poems. Ankit says that this book is not a book of poems expressing ideas, but a book of ideas expressing poems. Therefore, putting ideas forth takes priority over melody. But the words used are pretty common place, so you need not worry about not knowing Hindi too well. Also, Ankit mentioned trying to translate the poems into English sometime in the future, so hopefully, a wider public can read it. In the quality of poetry, I found a resonance with the works of Arun Kolatkar, the observational and narrative style, with subtle undertones, and often a crudeness which comes from more originality and less refining and polishing of words.

Overall, I enjoyed reading the book. Behind the poetry, I sense an angry mind. Angry, yet not pessimistic. I personally think that a pessimist is an angry person who has lost all hope. So, if a person is only angry yet, he still has hope. And although some of the poems may sound pessimistic, I somewhere sense a desperate attempt in them to make people uncomfortable and move them towards change. In fact, the whole idea of putting forth a book of such thoughts is to bring about some little change possible. This change might be just in the way people perceive such small social instances, but any revolution starts in the mind before it is out on the streets, and maybe this book will provide its own little impetus to that.

The cover of the Anthology

Being A Hopeful Romantic

If you were to hear the people around you, you would feel that hopeless is the only romantic you can be.

I, however, disagree.

Because, the hopeless, typical vision is cliched, and has been made so by commercialization. For example, if all you wanted was a birthday card from your boyfriend, why does it make you happier if he got it from Archies, rather than some other lesser known place? Or made it himself? Shouldn’t the message matter the most?

This is the kind of image of love that has been put forward by corporations for their own benefit. It’s so well engrained that girls tend to feel “if he spends more, he loves you more”.

Such kind of plastic expectations will always remain unfulfilled because there is no end to such expectations. Thus comes the “hopeless” into the picture.

Besides, I also feel that if the person cared enough for me, they would come up with original ways of expressing their feelings. And, if they care, but aren’t creative enough, I’ll get bored with them anyway. (I value creativity highly)

When I tell people that I do not read love stories (unless there is some other element like adventure) and do not like being gifted flowers, they assume I’m some hardened woman, with no feelings and an utter hatred for men and relationships.

The assumption is unfounded of course. I realize that no matter how versatile I be, life eventually sucks alone. I value good company. I have been blessed with like-minded friends. And here, I’lll flatter myself by saying I am a fairly good friend to them too. 😀

I also know the importance of a special person in life, a partner for the good and bad. But, I’d call myself a hopeful romantic. I will love that person, and give them enough space to coexist with me. I don’t expect us to celebrate anniversaries as if they were milestones on a road, but that we be happy with each other, and can do special stuff for each other, without limiting it to couple of days in a year.

I won’t expect superhuman things from that person. What is his fault, that he cares for me?

Everyone can make mistakes, and I will try my best to hear him out and not jump to conclusions. In this way, I feel, we can enjoy our time together.

Innumerable poems and paragraphs of prose have been written to cover the beauty of human relationships, and we still haven’t done enough. Therefore, there is no denying that human bonds are special. And for that sake, let us all not let money measure that for us. Let us all be hopeful romantics! 😀 Enough mushiness for now! Until the next post!

My creation.

Hey all, instead of sharing my thoughts on this or that, this time, i thought i’d share a poem. This is my best so far, i think. Its untitled. Please tell me what you think of it. 🙂

 

ne of the greatest mysteries of life,

the mystery of Tomorrow.

A rain, or sunshine,

or a simply starlit night sky it would bring.

 

Hitherto unknown, to this little fellow,

calls himself man.

Man indeed,

in search of tomorrow

, a tomorrow that never comes.

 

To be secure, his aim,

to know the future his desire.

time is nothing,

but an illusion.

Illusion , one of the many.

 

The more you tread into it,

the more you are pulled in.

O little one.

See it from afar,

coz that is life,

 

The life of today. t

he life is today.

A beautiful twilight,

a splendid transition

.For one bird is dead,

many are awaken.

Crows are cawing,

this very morning,

A night there,

a morning here

 

Its just a moment

,repeating itself.

Over and over till you lose your self in it..

Let go, let go, O little one,

time is but a burden, time is but a solution.

 

Man, oh man indeed,

See the truth, t

he light of the day,

Of today,

Of yesterday,

Of tomorrow.